First SVMC Employees Receive COVID-19 Vaccines
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First SVMC Employees Receive COVID-19 Vaccines

BENNINGTON, VT—December 16, 2020—The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which has received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, arrived at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) today. The first vaccines were given to hospital medicine physician Ann Marie Swann, MD, and Patricia Johnson, RN, a nurse in the Emergency Department. Both volunteered to be the first to receive the vaccine and work directly with COVID-19 patients. Forty-three additional healthcare workers, who also work directly with COVID-19 patients, followed. Thirty more are anticipated to receive the vaccine this evening.  

“We have been planning for many weeks and are eager to execute plans to distribute the vaccine to our staff and our communities,” said Trey Dobson, MD, SVMC’s chief medical officer and a board-certified emergency physician, who was also among the first to be vaccinated. “Although quantities are initially limited, we are working according to the state’s recommendations to get the vaccine to everyone as additional doses arrive.”

Vaccine information is available on the health system’s website, svhealthcare.org. It includes the phased vaccination plan, which indicates that healthcare workers who have direct contact with COVID-19 patients and adults who live in long-term care settings will be the first to be vaccinated, followed by first responders, essential workers, adults with high-risk medical conditions, and adults over the age of 65.

Phase II, which is anticipated to launch by the end of February, includes homeless and disabled populations and those who live and work in congregant settings, like group homes and prisons. Phase III includes the general population and is expected to begin by April. As vaccines are made available, the website will also include who can get a vaccine and how to schedule. Those who have questions may call the COVID-19 Hotline at 802-440-8844.

“This is so exciting,” said Swann just after being vaccinated. “I hope many people get vaccinated, so we can have herd immunity, keep ourselves and our families safe, and eventually begin to socialize in groups and travel again.”  

After receiving her vaccination, Johnson said, “I trust in science, and I want to lead by example to help strengthen the overall health of my community. Clear, transparent communication and collaborative engagement can help overcome vaccine hesitancy.”

Mask wearing, distancing, handwashing, and testing will continue to be important until after 75 percent of the population has been vaccinated. Public health experts project that restrictions could be lifted as early as this fall.

“Everyone needs to continue to wear their masks and distance from others for several more months, even after they get vaccinated, to prevent people from getting sick, to keep the hospitals from becoming overwhelmed, and to allow schools and businesses to be open,” Dobson said.

SVMC is open, ready, and safe. The health system has instituted many changes throughout the pandemic to ensure safe care, including expanded telehealth opportunities, a virtual waiting room, and symptom checks at entrances. Clinical staff urge patients not to delay primary care, specialty care, or regular screenings. Doing so could increase the likelihood of severe illness and hospitalization.   

About:
Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC) is a comprehensive, preeminent, health care system providing exceptional, convenient, and affordable care to the communities of Bennington and Windham Counties of Vermont, eastern Rensselaer and Washington Counties of New York, and northern Berkshire County in Massachusetts. SVHC includes Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC), Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center, the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, and the SVHC Foundation. SVMC includes 25 primary and specialty care practices.

Southwestern Vermont Health Care is among the most lauded small rural health systems in the nation. It ranked forth nationwide for the value of care it provides by the Lown Institute Hospital Index. It is a four-time recipient of the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence. It has also received the highest marks possible from The Joint Commission, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Leapfrog Group.  

Southwestern Vermont Medical Center provides exceptional care without discriminating on the basis of an individual’s age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture, language, physical or mental disability, socioeconomic status, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression. Language assistance services, free of charge, are available at 1-800-367-9559.

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